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Writer's Block: TMI - Suffering From Elation
A Survivor's Tale
Writer's Block: TMI
If you had the opportunity to know everything about the person you love, would you take it? Or would you avoid the possibility of getting hurt?

Joe is chronically honest, so I'm kind of already in this position. When I say "chronically honest", I mean it - he will tell me anything. He tells me if he thinks a particular shirt makes me look fat, he tells me if he thinks one of my friends is hot, I know every last one of his wacky fetishes and embarrassing memories, and he's told me everything he got up to while we were broken up. Our relationship is built out of pure distilled TMI.

At times it's been hard to bear. We've been together around four years now and the first couple of years were messy; we both had loads of growing to do. He never lied to me. So I never got to pleasantly fool myself when things went wrong.

I would not change a thing. Not one.

Not only is my skin considerably more thick than it used to be, his honesty inspires honesty in me: honest self-evaluation, honest feedback when I have an issue with something he's doing, honest discussion of the scary relationship stuff that a lot of couples dance around. Our communication is staggeringly good. It is, I think, the great strength of our relationship. And the side effect is an immense amount of trust.

I couldn't in good conscience recommend it for everyone. I think it takes a certain kind of person to like this sort of thing in a relationship and I know a lot of women who wouldn't put up with it for five seconds. Me, though, I wouldn't have it any other way - and to be honest (again) I think Joe's ruined me for most other men, because I'm so used to saying whatever I think, knowing Joe appreciates blunt honesty, that I'd probably hurt the feelings of your more standard-model men.

My friend rosequoll, who visited us last week, made a point that I thought I should include: When Joe tells me I look beautiful, it's because he genuinely thinks I look beautiful at that moment. NOT because he thinks my mood needs a bolster. NOT because he forgot to do something else and is trying to suck up. If either of those latter options are the case, he'll tell me that, not some appeasing bullshit. He will tell me when he's upset, but also tell me when he's happy. And I'll know he means it, every time. It took me a long time to realise how important that is.

It comes down to this: I would rather have the messy, unadulterated truth than a pretty lie. I would rather see people for how they are and love them (or leave them) warts-and-all than try to change them to suit my vision of the way they should be. The world would be terribly boring if everyone's top priority was to be inoffensive. Personally, I think if you're not offending someone, you're not trying hard enough. ;)


8 have fought ~ fight the power!
rosequoll From: rosequoll Date: June 3rd, 2010 12:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
There's the happy other side to it as well. If he tells you that a shirt makes you look fat, he'll also tell you when he thinks you look beautiful.

If he tells you when you upset him, he'll also tell you when you make him happy.

I think what you have is great and something I wish was more common.
tania From: tania Date: June 4th, 2010 12:42 am (UTC) (Link)
Very true. That's a point I should have made above, actually: because of how Joe communicates, when he DOES say those things, I have no doubt at all that he means it. When he tells me I look sexy it's because I look sexy, not because my mood needs bolstering or because he's feeling bad about something he did (in either of the latter cases, he'll cut to the chase and tell me those things instead!).

And by the way, big hugs for you. Never forget you have choices.
alby_lion From: alby_lion Date: June 3rd, 2010 03:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
The truth is a great point to start anything. Dishonesty doesn't even get to the beginning.
ketrava From: ketrava Date: June 3rd, 2010 09:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
I am going to be the dissenter for the other side. Honesty is good but somethings can only hurt. If it could effect your current relationship its worth talking about but many people have secrets about their past that they don't feel need to be shared. A totally dishonest relationship is doomed to fail but in many cases so is a truly 100% honest relationship. Some things eventually come out but others just don't need too.

tania From: tania Date: June 4th, 2010 12:36 am (UTC) (Link)
This proves my point - the approach, as I said, isn't for everyone. But I don't agree that a 100% honest relationship is doomed to fail. I think that's only likely to happen if one of the people isn't comfortable with 100% honesty (sharing, or receiving), OR if one of the secrets revealed is something entirely unacceptable, like that one of the partners is a child molester or something.

A lot of the things Joe's told me are things he didn't need to tell me (they didn't affect our relationship specifically) and they hurt at the time. But I remain glad he did so for three reasons, one personal, one relationship-based, and one ethical. Personally, my skin is thicker. Relationship-wise, I have a greater understanding of where he my partner come from and thus where he is going in life. And ethically, I have always shown a preference for a hard truth over a comforting lie. This is probably the reason I've never gravitated toward any religion; the idea that we are all stardust and that nothing happens after we die is not as pretty as the idea of heaven, but I prefer to have as much grasp on the realities of any situation as possible. It's more difficult, but allows me to make more accurate choices.

But like I said, that's very much a me-thing, and it's different for everyone; we all want different things out of our relationships.

I've found the times I've lived my life with the goal of "avoiding hurt" were the boring, empty times. Better to embrace all of life, the possibility of hurt included, and reap the rewards that come with taking that greater risk. The moments of hurt I've experienced over things Joe has told me have been vastly, VASTLY outweighed by the many benefits of being part of the most honest relationship I've ever known.
leggz From: leggz Date: June 3rd, 2010 10:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think I can almost compare myself with Joe in your relationship! I've never been good at subtlety, and I've found communication to be one of the cornerstones to any kind of meaningful relationship.

I advise people I get close to right from the start that I won't stand for them keeping grievances quiet. I need to know what they're thinking about things - I need feedback, good or bad. I don't harass them constantly, but if something comes up they have to verbalise it and make it blunt so I can understand it and we can work it through.

I do the same for them, obviously, and I find it can be a good way of working out issues before they even get to the "issue" stage. : )

Also, this part of my personality leads me to tell people positive things like I care about them and I like the way they do this, or that or that I really appreciate certain personality traits as often as I'm addressing concerns. I'm incredibly open and I find it works really well for us too.
tania From: tania Date: June 4th, 2010 12:39 am (UTC) (Link)
This is possibly why we get along so well; we have similar goals when we communicate. When I get to choose between suffering a few scuffs and bruises while getting an accurate feel for any situation, or feeling safe and comfy but not learning anything while proceeding in a state of self-delusion, well. Heehee.

I've seen people (and, in the past, myself) waste years of their life on friendships that don't work, relationships that don't work, jobs that don't work - all because they can't be honest enough with themselves to confront that.
leggz From: leggz Date: June 4th, 2010 04:51 am (UTC) (Link)
I totally agree. We're straight-shooters, and I love that. : )

Kudos to Joe for forcing it (lovingly) upon you as well! We need more brutally honest "relationship teachers" in the world!
8 have fought ~ fight the power!